Ashcamp, KY - Afton, VA
Started my day in the filthy Kentucky and rode along the terrifying road to the Virginia State Line. I began laughing to myself and it hit me that I was only 550 miles from my destination in Yorktown. I got off my bike and snapped a few pictures then, just stood there. Just stood there and tried to rake in the feeling of the last state. The road I was on was filled with 18-wheelers loaded with coal so, I had to really pay attention to the road after I left. When I crossed into Virginia, it was nicely groomed shoulders with no trash. The homes and yards I passed were clean and proper and it seemed like every motorist would constantly yield to me. And this was only the first day. I rolled into a Church Hostel called Elk Garden Methodist Church and there were two people tending to the gardens. Their names were Doris and Wes and they showed me around the church and gave me dinner! Southern hospitality at its finest.
After sleeping in air conditioning, it is always tough to get out of pad. I call it “getting out of pad” because it not really a bed. Got cooking down the road up one of three major climbs left. After summiting a short 3-miles later, I went down the steepest and curviest road I ever have touring. On the Adventure Cycling Association map set, it advises to go slow due to potholes, loose gravel, and traffic. I threw on a shirt and my gloves and kept my fingers off the brakes. I had vehicles moving over and I just had to see how this Niner Bike held up to its reputation. After 7-miles downhill, I went into a familiar town of Damascus, Virginia which, is well known for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. Saw and old trail friend “Lumpy” then headed to a hostel called “Woodchuck”. This hostel was run by Chuck and was a very nice place. Full house along with camping and a giant tepee in the yard. I set my stuff up in the tepee then met Ship and Anne who hiked all 570 miles of Virgina on the Appalachian Trail and their mom, Sharon, who was their support.
Dry nights sleep in the tepee and the smell of waffles woke me up from inside. Chuck made a massive spread of food for breakfast. This gave me the energy to make a 13-mile alternate on the famous Virginia Creeper Trail. The terrain was hard packed with gravel here and there. I was able to hit some mud and have a bit of fun on the downhills. Made it back on the road about midday and started up another big climb. Took me about an hour to top it than, 15 minutes to ride to the bottom. Hit the big town of Wytheville, VA and got a bite to eat at Wendy’s. Full bellied, I went to the city park where I got a terrible night's sleep.
Was up almost all night due to the mass amount of people coming to the pavilion at the city park to catch a virtual creature called a “Pokemon” on their phones. It wasn't the fact that they were there but, they I don't like being looked at when I sleep. That's weird. At one point, I had a guy wake me up to ask if I where I was biking to. Left at 7:00am and moved down the trail to a pavilion in Max Meadows to take a small nap. Woke up and received a text from my dad telling me he booked me a hotel in Christiansburg, VA for the night. I didn't take many breaks and got to the hotel around 4:00pm. I had to ride on the interstate for a solid half mile to get there and I will never do it again.
Woke up ready to head back into the small Appalachian Trail towns in the woods. I got out of the bustle of the city and entered the curvy roads again. I rode in the valley most of the day making it a cool, shady, nice ride. I really had a great day taking small breaks to swim and relax. I made a good 65-miles until I entered Troutville. I went and got some hotdogs and went to the same pavilion I slept in four years ago when I came through here. Another weird night's sleep with Pokemon players around the shelter.
Woke up to the realization that my days waking up in a tent are limited. I was excited to keep moving and motivated to finish this thing! Left the shelter once again and did not stop until 30-miles later. Blew through the town of Lexington and continued down the newly-paved road to the bottom of the last big climb. Arrived at Mallard Duck Campground with a dollar short of what I needed to camp. Carl (the owner) laughed and shrugged it off. Got under some shelter for the night and avoided a big storm.
Woke up early this morning to get a cooler go at this climb up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was only 4-miles long but, it was incredibly steep. There was no shoulder and sharp turns. Although, this area is known for cyclists, it was still a scary climb. Made it up the insane road about an hour later and began the large hills on top of the ridge. All day I was treated well by all the motorists and the views were spectacular. Fun ride down off the ridge and close to Charlottesville, VA. Campground called Misty Meadows and it is very nice on this hot day. Only three days left and this journey will come to an end. Stay tuned for the final entry!
Beginning the week, I rolled into the Elk Garden Church Hostel to meet Doris and Wes. They are a married couple who tend to the gardens and are members of the church. After having a short conversation they showed me to the outdoor shower and kitchen. We chatted until they left only to return minutes later with dinner. I had a big climb tomorrow and they wanted me fueled up! Super sweet people who went out of their way to help me.
I left the Church Hostel and traveled to Damascus, VA to stay at the Woodchuck Hostel. It was based around Appalachian Trail hikers but, doubles as a cyclists paradise. Chuck was the owner and he turned this home into an amazing rest place. Not only was everything clean as a whistle, Chuck made us a massive breakfast. I slept in a sweet tepee and played cornhole with some hikers.
While at Woodchucks, I met three other people. Ship and Anne were friends from Richmond, VA and hiked all of Virginia on the Appalachian Trail. Ships mother was picking them up and her name was Sharon. We really hit it off and we may meet up in Yorktown since they live close!
Didn't really meet anybody until Saturday night of this week. They were the owners of the Mallard Duck Campground and they were so generous! Their friends Joe and Sharon made me a giant cold cut sandwich with a Yoo-hoo and orange Fanta. I was in literal amazement at how generous all these people were here at the end of the journey.
Let's get it! Whoo Hoo! Made it into Virginia! Barely. So, when I left the pavilion in Elk City, I left down the road with no shoulder. Two different people said in passing, “Be careful on these roads”. This made me start to really pay attention. The Virginia/Kentucky line is on the coal highway which, is said to be the “Energy Capital”. There were 18-wheelers at every turn. Making my way to a church hostel, the shoulder widened and the traffic decreased. On the way to Damascus, it was the same story with no shoulder. The traffic was light and the switchback in the Appalachian Mountain are familiar with me making a great ride. The hills are no more than a mile long but, they are extremely steep. Cool thing is what goes up, must come down.
Wythesville, VA was the next destination and the route there was a lot of highway riding. It had large shoulders that were generally clean. The traffic here is pretty safe with cyclists, until you hit the cities. The hills got very small and more of rolling hills giving me enough momentum to almost coast up every peak. These rolling hills continued all the way until a campsite right before the insane climb to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Got hydrated, tweaked the bike, and stretched for the last climb on the TransAmerica Trail. 4-mile grind up 15-18% incline over the ridge. Beautiful and familiar as the Appalachian Trail follows the entire Blue Ridge Pkwy. I rode down the 30-mile stretch and rode 40 plus my down the other side into a campsite 25 miles outside of Charlottesville, VA. 220 miles of downhill and three days left.
- TRANSAMERICA Milestones -
- FROM: Watkinsville, Georgia
- DOB: 2016-01-01
- OCCUPATION: General Contractor
What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure?
The feeling of adventure and seeing new places. On a bike, time seems to move much slower and I would love to feel that again.
Have you traveled by bike in the past?
I have completed the Great Divide Mountain Bike route from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico.
What is your goal for the route?
My goal is to diverge from the route off the beaten trail and go find adventure! I would like to be able to gather stories about my adventure in order to motivate others to get out there!
What do you hope to get out of this journey?
By the end of this journey, I hope to have collected stories, meet as many people as possible, and all around have fun. Along with doing this, I would love to have a very detailed journal and blog for others to follow and get inspired.
- TRANSAMERICA Milestones -